Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Big fun at DeVry University!

Arlington, Virginia, USA

DeVry logoThis weekend I flew to the USA to give a couple of workshops at the Arlington, Virginia campus of DeVry University. DeVry is a nationwide career-oriented university with campuses all over the country, and they were using my visit to promote their new Games and Simulation Programming degree. They had a reception and dinner for me among the current students on Friday night, and then the workshops were held on Saturday in conjunction with a whole lot of other fun events to encourage prospective students to apply. I got a chance to sit down with the faculty and look over their curriculum. It looks good. I'm normally a bit suspicious of schools that are heavy on the training, but their degree includes some psychology, literature, and other humanities courses to help turn out a more well-rounded graduate.

The workshops went well, and the prospective students showed promise. I had them work on some new, never-before-tried game ideas, including "Confront the Whaling Ships." One team created a simple action game for mobile phones called Moby's Revenge. The player controls a whale that head-butts the ships. Pieces fall off and you can collect them up to make armor, which enables you to bash larger and larger ships as the history of whaling progresses from the 19th century to the present day.

The biggest fun, though, was at the reception the night before. I seldom encounter such a friendly, engaged, bright bunch of students. It helped that they were self-selected, of course, so the only ones who turned up were the ones who really wanted to be there in the first place; but even so, it was an outstanding group of people. The other thing that really struck me was their camaraderie and positive attitude. You often run into game development students, especially young males, who are just too cool for words, or aggressively competitive. Not this crowd -- they seemed really supportive of each other and excited about learning. There were only three women out of probably sixty people there, but a little observation showed that they weren't being shunted aside or given minor roles on their development teams (as happens all too often).

Anyway, the whole thing was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to going back, even with the jet lag.